Maria’s George died this evening.  Others are not far behind.  It is such a privilege to read the posts of those in the last days and hours of life with their Loved Ones.  The Lewy Body Dementia Spouses’ group is candid about what they are going through whatever it may be at any given time.  It is a help to the rest of us to hear straight talk with all the details from others at different places in the journey with Lewy Body Dementia.

Each death that is recounted brings lots of responses from others.  There are many celebrations that the battle is over and the Loved One is finally at peace. There is relief that the Caregiver Spouse is also free from the clutches of the Dementia.  There are from the same people words revealing a deep sadness that the time of Caregiving is over.  One spouse giving care during those last days and hours wished she could just keep ministering to her husband without ever having to give him up.

As that fond wish to continue to care resonated in my thinking, I realized just how true some words were that were spoken by a friend when I retired.  He has retired and cares for his wife who has had ALS for many years.  He observed what an honor it is to be able to become a full time Caregiver.

As so many in the online group have died in the past months with more moving into their end times, I recognize just what a privilege and honor it is to have time with Mary Ann.

We spent a good portion of the day driving in the car.  We headed out to pick up a friend and then drove to the studio of our favorite potter.  The studio is in a tiny Kansas town about an hour away.  We picked up a couple of pieces while we were there.  One was a chili bowl with a handle and high sides.  Our hope is that the high sides will keep the cheerios from sliding out of the bowl as Mary Ann chases them with the thick-handled spoon.  We left with his artisans a plastic plate we had purchased to make it easier for Mary Ann to push food on the fork or spoon without the food slipping off the edge of the plate.  Our request is that he make a ceramic plate shaped like the plastic sample painted with glazes matching a couple of other pieces he has done.  There is no reason that we need to leave aesthetic considerations behind when we get adaptive devices to make Mary Ann’s life a little easier.

It is her birthday tomorrow.  The bowl will be her birthday gift — surprise, surprise! We have come to the age at which birthdays diminish dramatically in interest.  At least that is how I rationalize my lack of creativity in celebrating them.

We drove through an area of the Flint Hills.  The green of the spring grass, recently watered by rain showers, glistening in the sun was breathtaking.  Birds were flying, cattle grazing, van passengers soaking it all in.

As I think about those who have lost the ones for whom they have been caring, i realize more vividly than ever just how great it is to have this time.  When I am mid-task, doing something I don’t particularly enjoy, irritated at Mary Ann because she seems to be fighting against the very thing I am doing to help, it is easy to weary of it all and wish it was over.  I am grateful that it is not over.  I am grateful that we can sit at Panera’s and have a Bear Claw and a cup of coffee.

We have had a couple of tough nights in the last week or so.  Those are the nights when she is restless, needing some sort of assistance two or three times during every hour of the night.  It is not so much the tiring night that is the problem but the two days of increased hallucinations and confusion and long daytime naps that inevitably follow.  Tonight again, there was concern about the comings and goings of the Thursday people. We went through the skin Cancer removal, subsequent fall and repair of the wound, all in the last ten days or so.  Mary Ann has struggled more with spatial issues and dexterity resulting in her need for more help in getting food of the plate and into her mouth.

In this same last week we have had some very good days, eating out with some new friends, running errands, spending time at the library, having ice cream treats, going to see the Star Trek movie, enjoying a helpful Parkinson’s Support Group meeting, experiencing our own little meals on wheels program as  couple of great meals were brought over, a melt-in-your-mouth four layered chocolate cake with fluffy sweet white frosting covered with shredded coconut being delivered.

What I intuitively recognized in those thirteen seconds as we sat at McFarland’s restaurant September before last is absolutely true.  We needed time together while we have it.  As others spend their last days and hours concluding their journey together, it becomes crystal clear.  I have an honor, the honor of being Caregiver to Mary Ann.  I am grateful not to have missed the chance.

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